December 27, 2008


I know the town is in Williams county. And Williams county is somewhere in Ohio. The town has a building that says “Veteran’s Memorial” on the side. It looks like a rec center more than a memorial. Maybe its a museum. The backdrop is farmland. I don’t know for sure it if was farmland because it was dark and there was snow on the ground. The snow helped the feeling of darkness.

I had told myself that I would drive to the lights of the town, no further. I didn’t want to travel too far from the highway-side-Ramada. I was right to do so because this town in Williams county Ohio temporarily healed the loneliness of solitary highway driving that hits me especially hard at night.

“Welcome to America, Matthew,” the town said.

“Towns like you are dead,” I said, “you’re just a shell.”

The town didn’t respond.

I needed food—real food. The combos and red bulls were sitting in my throat instead of my stomach. A meal was my way of apologizing to my stomach.

“We don’t have cuisine like third world countries” I told the town. “there, they respect food and eat in community. All you give me is convent store crap, bottles of soda, bags of chips”

Again, it didn’t respond.

I continued driving through the town. On a side street I spotted my target: “Tano’s Pizza” —“OPEN”(neon).I parked and walked in. There was a lady at the counter.

“do you have an order?”


She pulled out a tablet. I read over the menu. I’m a slow reader. I didn’t want to upset her so I tried to read fast.

“I’ll have an Italian sub, garlic toast and…uhh… a drink”

She pointed to the soda cooler.

“And two pepsis”

She wrote “POP” on her tablet, “It’ll be 15 minutes”

“Okay” I sat down.

The back of the neon sign said “made in America” The place was clean. There were at least 5 female employees. One was the matriarch. I was sure---Proud-to-be-an-American-Matriarch-owner. I sat there and wondered if the delivery man was a guy. Later, a guy showed up at the door with a lite cigarette. He was wearing a Carhart jacket like mine. He stuffed out his cigarette and walked in. His floppy pizza bag came into view.

He was a guy.

I waited for 10 minutes. The girl at the counter handed me a paper bag and two cans of pepsi,“Have a good night”

“you too”

I got in my car and opened up the bag--- a sandwich and toast. They were both warm. The “toast” was more like cheesy bread. It exceeded my expectations and made me very happy. It made up for the sore feeling that was created by failing (in my haste) to get the “delux” or the “supreme” sub. And I forgot to ask for pickles.

An appetizing smell filled my car on the way back to the hotel.

Two restaurants were advertized by signs in the hotel parking lot. I had somehow failed to see them on the way out. One was a ‘family’ restaurant located on the inside of the hotel. The second was a pizza place. If I had seen the family restaurant I would have chosen it.

I think God wanted me to eat at Tano’s but I can’t be sure.

The Italian sandwich and garlic cheese bread was much better than third-world rice, raisin and lamb. My stomach didn’t forgive me.

WRITTEN in its entirety on a hotel notepad in a highway side Ramada while simultaneously eating a warm and delicious sub---by a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Hi! My name is Matthew Halbe.

I'm a web developer working at Vistaprint in Silver Spring Maryland. I have four kids, August, Liesel, Levi and Clementine, and a wonderful wife, Dory.

I spent 6 years as an enlisted soldier in the Army before coming out to the DC area for school and work.

My main interests are web development, US-Iran Relations and documentary films.

email - github - linkedin - twitter